In the spring of 2020, like stores across the country, we pulled down our grates, shut off our lights, and unplugged our Granita maker. We were lurching into the unexpected; the sounds of the Italian Market grated to a halt and our more anxious cousins began cloroxing their grocery bags. When Mariella Esposito fit the lock on our 9th Street storefront back in 2020, she didn’t know when we would be back. But a family business doesn’t survive one-hundred and sixteen years without the resolve and ingenuity to find a way back; we reopened in September of 2020, six months after Mariella pulled our shutters down. The ‘supply chain crisis’ had just entered our vocabulary. Some of our providers left us by the wayside, pivoting their limited supplies to big box retailers across the country, others closed. We were hurting. But again, family businesses don’t survive more than a hundred years without a pinch of small business know-how. So long nights by the coffee pot began and we reforged old relationships, redoubled our resolve, and put impactful products back on our walls. In 2022, we’re not only back on our feet—we’re racing forward and eager to reunite you with that kitchen of your dreams. And you know what? We’ve plugged our Granita maker in again. That’s why we’re proud to announce the return of our blog posts. If the pandemic cloistered us inside, it meant that we spent more time in our kitchens. We had adventures in bread making, we canned those tomatoes that grew on our porches and in our yards, and we remembered that the best way to cope with our newfound isolation was around a meal and our loved ones (whether they were virtual or in person).
Today we want to share something special with you all. Now that we can put Zoom dinners behind us (or partly behind us?), we want to share something that screams summer and togetherness. July is that month where scorching temperatures drive us out of the city or into those little, cool, shady spaces that make our summers warm, but not too hot! July smells like grills burning sweet, delicious sausages. July tastes like long hots and porchetta. July is the month where the smoke of charcoal mingles with picnic benches in the shade and breeze to produce something even sweeter than our Granita. That’s why I want to share my best kept July secret: a hamburger recipe for those moments where friends and family get to share a little bit of that Philadelphia sweetness with you.
Gigi Bowers’ Smash Burger Recipe
Ingredients (for every one-pound of 80/20 ground beef)
o 8 saltine crackers
o 1 egg, beaten
o 1 garlic clove shaved
o 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
o ¼ cup of your favorite cheese (Gigi loves Pepper Jack!)
o 2 teaspoons of onion powder
o A few grinds of black pepper
o A pinch of salt o Your favorite buns
o Your favorite cheese (sliced)
o 1-2 tablespoons of a high smoking point oil (optional)
o While you’re getting your ingredients ready, let your ground beef sit on the counter and come to room temperature.
o In a large mixing bowl, add your ingredients. We love our large stainless bowls for the occasion. If you’re cooking indoors, you might set a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Withhold oil until it reaches your desired temperature. We love our Lodge cast iron skillets! If you’re cooking outdoors, set one side of your grill over medium and the other over low (arrange charcoal accordingly).
o Add the ground beef and mix with your hands until combined. NB: you don’t want to overmix and overwork your beef; you want to combine but you don’t want to work it so that it loses its natural bonds.
o Once combined, pull apart to form four roughly shaped patties per pound. Again, you will notice that your ground beef is more connected in some places; try and form your patties around these bonds. Be careful not to overwork them.
o Place in your skillet or on the grill. On the grill, you want to place them on the side where your coals or gas are set low. If you’re using a grill, I strongly recommend a griddle or grill basket for the next step. We sell both!
o Towards the end of the first minute of your patties being on the grill (griddle or basket only for this step) or in your skillet (this is crucial, because otherwise they risk losing too much of their delicious moisture), press them down evenly until they thin out to about a ¼ or ½ inch, appearing ‘smashed’. We strongly recommend using a burger press for this or a flat spatula. We carry both!
o Cook for three to four minutes a side (or until desired doneness). Make sure that they aren’t sticking too much when you prepare to flip them. We carry a range of marvelous thermometers and surface temperature readers that can help you determine when your food is ready.
o Cook for another 30s to a minute, placing a slice of cheese on each of your patties.
o Place them in buns and, most importantly, enjoy!